Dark January for Restaurants

January is a notoriously poor month for restaurants with many closures often announced in the first weeks of the year.

This year's January, however, appears to be particularly serious with the Restaurants Association of Ireland claiming that the number of its members which have shut down since Christmas has pushed the total number of closures over the last six months to more than 280.

These closures are across the country, with six Cork restaurants ceasing trading. They include Tung Sing Chinese restaurant which has been on Patrick Street for more than 60 years, Pigalle Kitchen on Barrack Street, the White Rabbit on MacCurtain Street and the popular Nash 19 which has operated since 1991.

Owner Claire Nash has been prominent in putting Cork on the culinary map, including Cork's Long Table Dinner, where 12 of Cork's restaurants and their chefs came together to prepare a four-course meal for 400 diners seated outdoors on one long table on the South Mall. She was also a key figure in “Cork on a Fork”, a food festival which helped lift Cork out of lockdown restrictions in 2022.

Restaurant owners have pointed to a range of factors which have raised their costs, including the ending of the 9% VAT rate, a requirement to pay “warehoused debt” hanging over since the pandemic, an increase in the minimum wage, enhanced employee entitlements and high energy costs.

Finance Minister Michael McGrath has promised flexibility on the repayment of warehoused debt, and the RAI has launched a campaign seeking redress on other key issues.